This article originally appeared in the July 98 issue of The Queue
To a player just beginning the game the variety of choices in armor and weaponry can be daunting. What it the best armor to use? What kind of weapon should I have? Sword or maul? Long or two-handed? Mythril or tempered steel? The questions go on and on and, frustratingly, most of the answers one will find start with "it depends".
And so it does. Yet it's that interplay of choice and effect that give the game much of its depth and interest. What begins as a cacophony of alternatives to the untrained ear eventually settles into a smooth melody. One need only learn how to listen.
Okay, so lean back, crank on some Ozzy and let's talk about metal. Heavy metal. Light ones too. Maybe even a little leather tossed in as a counter beat as we try to pluck a harmony out of the cacophonous world of metals in the Realm.
As you ventured forth with your new character for the first time, in search of fame and fortune, you probably gave little thought about what metal you would base your equipment upon. Yet many rats and a few close calls later you found you had enough gold available to start thinking about shedding that fashionable newbie wear you'd been sporting. Off to the armory you went, visions of invulnerability dancing in your head, only to find that all was not well in dreamland.
There are more than a few choices when it comes to armor; leather or metal, iron or steel, steel or mythril. You've even heard tell of more exotic materials such as obsidianite and admantium. Which one do you get? Well... the more expensive the better, right? But the expensive stuff is, well, expensive. So... get the best you can afford at the moment, right? That has to be better than newbie-wear.
Vowing to return after you have killed more rats - many, many more rats - you lay down your hard won gold and purchase the most expensive plate armor you can afford - a glistening iron breastplate. That'll keep the nasty rat fangs from slicing your treasured hide.
The first battle you enter you notice you aren't moving like you used to. The rats are coming to you in battle rather than you going to the rats and it sure seems like they are getting to hit first all the time now. What the heck is going on? They aren't hitting you as hard but good gracious you feel slow. But you weather storm, sally forth and claim prize after prize from the hapless rats, and eventually return to town with visions of invulnerability dancing in your head and... all is not well in dreamland.
You still can't afford the good stuff and to make matters worse it's cost you 80% of your hard won gold just to repair what you have so it doesn't fall into a pile of worthless metal shavings at your feet the next time you get hit. Egads! At this rate it will take forever to get that good stuff. And you are right, it will feel like forever.
So how does one avoid being locked forever in the all-is-not-well-in-dreamland world? Simple: plan for the future. Pick out where you are heading and shoot for it. Avoid taking detours. Reject whatever doesn't move you toward your goal. Hmmm.... didn't your high school counselor say something like that once?
If what you want is mythril armor then... get mythril armor. Don't buy something inferior unless you are faced with a compelling need. As long as you are able to kill without being killed, as long as you can still make gains in experience and gold without spinning your wheels, then don't invest your money in armor that you will only end up selling later at a 50% loss.
Now I hope you are not thinking "Mythril armor, huh? So that's the best stuff." It might be. It might not be. When it comes to armor the right choice, as we are all so fond of hearing, is "it depends".
"What does it depend upon?" you ask. Well... how's that Ozzy CD doing?
The right choice in armor depends upon the type of character you are playing. Bet ya never saw that coming. It all boils down to 3 factors: durability, expense, and encumbrance. How much damage can it take before it needs to be repaired and how much do the repairs cost? How much damage will the armor absorb rather than inflicting it upon your cute lil toon body? And last but not least, for this one is the - ahem - weighty matter, how much does it slow you down and cut into your ability to carry treasure? There is also the question of how much protection your choice in armor will provide but a little investigation will show that the armor rating of pieces forged from the various metals varies not at all.
Now I'm not going to log onto my favorite Realm info page and dig up all the stats on all the types of armor and all the variations of weapons, you can do that for yourself (besides, you are already reading my favorite Realm page) but I will share a few general considerations.
Iron - A vast conspiracy by the Ogres who all too frequently
drop this stuff in hopes of getting you to don it and become so slow that a snail will have won the race to the puddle of ogre ooze and feasted on anything valuable, leaving you with only another piece of snappy red-brown evening wear. Avoid this stuff. Be it in the form of weapon or armor, turn your nose up at it and walk way. Iron may be cheap to repair but it is heavy and non-durable, that's two strikes. Since this isn't baseball two strikes and it's outta here.
Steel - Why bother? It may be better than iron but it's not as
good as tempered steel. The only reason for using steel equipment is if
you get it for free and are trading up from newbie-wear or - gasp! - ignored my rant on iron.
Tempered Steel - This stuff isn't bad. It can take a bit of abuse and it is not too expensive to repair. The downside is the weight. Tempered steel is heavy in comparison to the protection it provides. This is the armor to choose if you find you must purchase something better than newbie duds to be able to hunt the critters you need to hunt and are still unable to pay for what you really want.
Mythril - The lightest stuff this side of leather it provides good durability at reasonable repair costs. Mythril equipment is only available in selected armories (Excellent Weapons in Usk and The Forge in E. Leinster) or from an armomrsmith player. Mythril is my personal choice for most characters, regardless of profession. Let me stress here that word most, there are considerations which make mythril less than prime under some circumstances. One example might be a character who relies on speed rather than strength in combat. Such a character would find using troll leather armor best keeps his steps light.
Obsidianite - You can't find this stuff in the armories. The only way to get it is to take it off a dead critter or get an armor or weapons smith to make it for you. Everything that mythril is obsidianite is more of: heavier, more durable and more expensive. Only you can decide if the gain in durability is worth the encumbrance price... and if you find that it is then why stop at obsidianite? Why not go all out and get admantium?
Admantium - This is the heaviest of the metals, the Ozzy of the world of armor. Headbanger tough, it is also the most expensive to repair and, like obsidianite, can only be found amongst the carnage you sow or by courtesy of your friendly, neighborhood smithy. If you are of the battle tank mentality then this the stuff for you.
It is your style of play, the type of character you are creating, that guides your choice in what type of equipment to outfit your character. Mythril is a good choice for the standard selection, it will serve most characters very well. If your character relies on heavily on speed, such as a thief who uses a throwing dagger, then troll leather is probably better for you. If you confront the dangers of the Realm with brute force, a giant warrior with a maul for example, then admantium, with its superior durability, may well suit you best. The other choices, such as tempered steel or obsidianite, should be looked on as temporary measures, choices taken due to circumstances rather than plan, and should be discarded as soon as conditions allow you to return to the course you have plotted. Of course, there are still other options when it comes to armor and weapons, the rare and the magical. Those special items with special benefits found in special places. But that's another article isn't it?
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